DJ Goa Gil: Kalifornian Exile, Dark Yogi and Dreaded Anomaly
Author: Graham St. John
Date: Jun 25, 2011
Connecting three generations of music enthusiasts, Goa Gil is an imposing figure in the world of psychedelic trance. If the title of his 2007 compilation registers intent, he is a Worldbridger. Bristling with motifs of world sacred sites and appropriated "tribal" icons, with Gil seated cross-legged upon the apex of a Mayan temple, the album's cover artwork confabulates the physical, spiritual and cultural worlds he professes to bridge.
Leading world-wide "trance dance rituals" Goa Gil operates under the guise of a "techno-shaman", a "cyber-baba" and a selector/mixer of traditions whose rituals are reputedly timeless and universal. But this intent is performed amid a highly mobile lifestyle spread across diverse psychedelic music cultures, scenes and sensibilities in discrete times and places. From the 1960s Haight-Ashbury psychedelic rock scene, to the psychedelic jam band scene on Anjuna beach, Goa, India, in the 1970s, to the adoption of electronic music in a DJ-led scene in the 1980s, to the birth of "Goa trance" in the 1990s, to his selection, production and performance of dark psychedelic trance in the 1990s/2000s onwards, DJ Goa Gil's life spans a breathtaking panorama of this-worldly psychedelic scenes. Gil is a freak bricoleur, an anomalous figure who evades modest circumscription. A Californian exile and sanctioned Shaivite practitioner with a professional hankering for darkpsy (as a DJ-producer), a hippie broker of the "Cosmic Spirit" and a post-apocalyptic punk, he is a spiritual authority and cultural outlaw touring the planet with an improbable mix of semiotic and sonic baggage. What's more, celebrated as a champion of the "Goa vibe" or derogated as an accomplice to its demise, Gil is a controversial figure who is the embodiment of considerable ambivalence. This article explores this holiest of anomalies in the world of DJing.
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